What is it?
Echinacea is a plant species found in North America and is used as a traditional remedy by the Great Plains Indian Tribes. It is available now in the form of juices, tea and supplement tablets. It seemingly is able to activate our body chemicals to decrease inflammation to reduce common flu symptoms. It also produce chemicals that fight yeast and fungi.
Studies have shown that it helps in reducing cold symptoms however whether it prevents cold more studies need to be done. When taken orally together with medicated cream, Echinacea seems to reduce female vaginal infection.
Insufficient evidence based studies is present to prove if Echinacea helps to improve performance, anxiety, gingivitis (gum infection), tonsillitis, uveitis (eye inflammation), ear infection, genital herpes, HPV infection, urinary tract infection, hay fever, allergies, eczema and chronic fatigue syndrome.
Possible side effects
When taking the normal dose, it is generally safe when taken for short term. There are not enough evidence if it is safe to take it for long period of time. Some side effects include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dry mouth, sore throat, dizziness, insomnia and joint pain.
As there may be a risk of allergy in children, some regulations recommend against taking it in children under 12 years old. Should a rash occur, stop immediately.
There is insufficient evidence to prove if it is safe for lactating/pregnant women to consume it, hence it is best to avoid. Also if you have autoimmune diseases like SLE, Rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, it is best to avoid taking it as Echinacea as it has an effect on immune system and may make condition worse.
1. Caffeine: Echinacea slows down breakdown of caffeine and can increase side effects of caffeine like jitteriness, palpitations and headache.
2. Medications broken down by liver enzymes cytochrome P450: Echinacea slows down the liver enzymes break down of medications that are metabolized by the liver and hence increasing their side effects. Examples of such medications include lovastatin, ketoconazole, Itraconazole and fexofenadine.
3. Immunosuppressant: As Echinacea improves immune system, it may render immune-suppressants less effective for those who are taking it.
There is no scientific guidelines on the dosing. If in doubt, follow product’s label and consult your doctor first before consumption.